css.php

Using the Kindle DX as a PDF Reader

Lee Hachadoorian on Dec 14th 2011

I was never particularly interested in reading novels on the Kindle, but as an academic I have reams of journal articles—most in PDF format—that I need to read and consult for my research. Many of you will know what I mean when I say that I can’t stand reading on a computer monitor. But printing the articles is problematic, too. There’s the obvious environmental concern, which I partially mitigate by printing everything 4-up double-sided (usually prompting onlookers to ask “Can you read that?!!”), but even then there’s the problem of actually having the articles with you when you find yourself with downtime on the subway, at the doctor’s office, etc. So when my parents asked me what I wanted as a graduation gift…

Which Kindle?

When I got it last May, Amazon had not yet released the Kindle Touch or the Kindle Fire, so my choice was basically between the 6” screen (now renamed Kindle Keyboard) with WiFi (and optionally with 3G wireless) and the 9.7” Kindle DX with 3G wireless only. Obviously, as with laptops, there’s a portability/usability tradeoff. But not knowing how well PDFs would convert to the Amazon e-reader format (read further for notes on PDF conversion), I picked the larger-screen Kindle DX for full-page PDF viewing. Continue Reading »

Filed in Productivity | 2 responses so far

Online Voting

Lee Hachadoorian on Dec 3rd 2011

Estonia is apparently a leader in secure digital signature and voting. 95% of adults have electronic signature credentials, and the country’s national elections take place completely online. I found this out during Day 1 of the CUNY IT Conference, in the keynote address by Robert D. Atkinson of The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Atkinson claims countries with smaller territories, like Estonia, can advance  projects like online voting because all the stakeholders can be brought together to move such a project forward. Continue Reading »

Filed in Governance | 3 responses so far

Urbanized

Lee Hachadoorian on Nov 27th 2011

I recently saw Urbanized, a documentary film about urban design showing at a handful of cinemas around the country. The film examines planning and design at cities around the world, generally focusing on specific projects in each city, such as the High Line in New York City, the TransMilenio bus rapid transit system in Bogotá, and a system of pedestrian paths in a South African township. There are also segments discussing citywide planning, for example in Phoenix and Brasília. While the projects chosen vary, a recurring theme is the impact of planning and design on the day-to-day lives of the lower class. Continue Reading »

Filed in Housing,Planning,Transportation | One response so far

Occupy the Commons

Lee Hachadoorian on Nov 18th 2011

Occupy Wall Street is two months old. While sympathetic with generalities of the critique, I’m a little unsure about what actual changes this will lead to. This is partially because OWS has not specified policy demands. This lack of specificity has been defended by Bernard Harcourt as a form of political disobedience, as a protest not only of the current conditions but also of the political system which has led to this point. In this view, articulating demands is merely buying into the institutions and ideologies that OWS rejects. Further, an alternative view of decision-making is being articulated in the participatory democracy of the General Assembly itself. (See this piece on the intellectual roots of the protest.)

But leaving aside participatory democracy, the essence of the critique captured in “We are the 99%” comes down to economic inequality. What is to be done about inequality depends (at least partly) on your opinion of the cause. Participatory democracy is the solution offered by OWS, because the cause of inequality is taken to be corporate capture of traditional political channels. Continue Reading »

Filed in Governance,Urban | 3 responses so far

Downgrading a Package in Ubuntu

Lee Hachadoorian on Oct 28th 2011

Never satisfied with something that is already working (Firefox), a few months ago I decided to check out Chromium, the open source version of Google’s Chrome web browser. My impression is that it is very snappy at page loads. In looking into which browser would be better on an old, hardware-challenged computer (a Sony VAIO with a 1.2 GHz Pentium M and 512 MB RAM), I found that Tom’s Hardware reports that while Chrome has a heavier memory footprint, it also has faster page loads. On low-end systems that makes it kind of a toss-up—will the increased memory demands translate into a faster feel in your browsing?—but on my 6 GB RAM Dell desktop and my 8 GB RAM Lenovo laptop, the OS can easily afford to throw a couple of GB to Chromium in exchange for a faster browsing experience. Continue Reading »

Filed in Computing,General | One response so far

Federalism and States’ Responsibilities

Lee Hachadoorian on Oct 12th 2011

One of the more interesting issues to emerge during the recent Republican primary debates was the division of powers in our federal system of government. Often this gets called something like “states’ rights”, but that phrase is probably irreversibly entwined with Jim Crow and other state curtailments of civil rights. The present issues perhaps require a new term, along the lines of “states’ responsibilities”, which would emphasize things that states should do for their citizens—in the absence of federal action, or perhaps even in preference to federal action. Continue Reading »

Filed in Federalism | Comments Off on Federalism and States’ Responsibilities

Participatory Budgeting Comes to (parts of) NYC

Lee Hachadoorian on Sep 15th 2011

The New York Times reports that four City Council members will let their constituents decide how to spend $1 million, in a process known as participatory budgeting. Open meetings will be used to generate ideas, after which constituent volunteers will develop proposals for how to use the money. The four were inspired by similar processes in Chicago and in other countries. In one council district in Chicago where the alderman had instituted participatory budgeting, the constituents not only determined that some of the money should be used for sidewalk repair, they walked the sidewalks to determine where their money should be directed. Continue Reading »

Filed in Governance | Comments Off on Participatory Budgeting Comes to (parts of) NYC

Cab of the Recent Past

Lee Hachadoorian on May 23rd 2011

The Bloomberg administration announced recently that it had chosen the new model for the New York City taxi cab, the minivan-like Nissan NV200. The van has a number of interesting features, including outlets and USB ports for charging cell phones and PDAs, and sliding doors for reducing dooring of pedestrians and cyclists (OK, neither USB ports nor sliding doors are exactly rocket science). The van also gets a respectable 25 mpg. Certainly not revolutionary, but a significant improvement over the roughly 15 mpg of the fleet-dominating Ford Crown Victoria. Not as good as the one-third of the fleet which are already hybrids Continue Reading »

Filed in Federalism,Transportation,Urban | One response so far

AudaCity the Game

Lee Hachadoorian on Mar 20th 2011

I just spent the last few days at the Urban Affairs Association 2011 conference in New Orleans. It was an amazing collection of researchers and practitioners working on urban issues, with many papers focused on the post-Katrina recovery. I also had the pleasure of meeting Matt Cazessus and Colby King, urban sociologists from the University of South Carolina, who have designed a game to simulate the process of urban development. With everything else going on at the conference, they did not actually run a playtest, but I have to say that it looks very promising, and I’m looking forward to playing it and to trying it out in a classroom environment. Continue Reading »

Filed in Planning,Urban | Comments Off on AudaCity the Game

The Panopticon Comes to Atlantic City

Lee Hachadoorian on Mar 5th 2011

I’m a big game player, and have been involved (mostly just listening in) with CUNY Games Network, a great group of CUNY faculty devoted to games-based learning. Games can teach us a lot, either through being fun ways to instill content (a simple quiz game which could be adapted to any subject), or having gameplay that is based on the subject matter (like using Pandemic in a public health class). Like everyone else in the world, I first played Monopoly as a kid. But while most people seem to outgrow it, or merely tire of it, I find it more interesting as an adult. The negotiation phase that dominates the middle game, when most properties have been put into play but few color group monopolies have been formed, is the heart of the game—the most challenging and the most fun. Continue Reading »

Filed in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Panopticon Comes to Atlantic City

« Prev - Next »

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar